I set out to find Hohenwald. It was a beautiful day driving through the mountains. There was something about the winding roads and the pick-up truck that made me switch the radio to country music. I just had to. The more I listened, the more I realized what it was that I liked about country; the lyrics. I found myself immersed in stories, some sad, some funny, and some really ridiculous.

Songs like this one I could understand. There were definitely parallels between my journey and what Lee Brice sings about. Although, I realized that even though I’ve spent my days missing Arielle while she was at college I was lucky because I was on my way to see her. A song–a story.

I reached Hohenwald and stopped at a McDonald’s to ask for directions. Little did I know the Welcome Center was about 1/2 mile down the road. Well, the kind people of Hohenwald thought I was looking for the actual 2,700 acres that was home to the elephants probably because I simply asked for directions to the sanctuary not the Welcome Center. They sent me into the hills of Tennessee. Before I knew it I lost cell phone service and was driving on dirt roads. Eventually, I made my way back into town and there it was!

The elephant sanctuary

This is the Welcome Center where there is live video of the elephants. They do not permit visitors to see the elephants other than on the screens. It wasn’t what I’ve been accustomed to but I completely understand the reasoning behind it. These elephants spent most of their lives on display for humans. Some of them forced to do unnatural tricks for entertainment. They certainly deserved to live the rest of their lives in freedom.

Elephant sanctuary inside elephant sanctuary inside2

The nice people at the Welcome Center spent over an hour with me answering questions and talking to me about the elephants. Soon they will begin an outreach program for schools online. So, teachers keep an eye on their website. I also promised to help in any way I could. When I learn of their new program I’ll post it on the blog.

It had already been a long day of driving but my hotel was booked in Kentucky. I had to keep going. I hopped in the truck and realized I hadn’t eaten. As I drove past the town of Linden a sign caught my eye. FRESH BAKED BREAD! I turned around.

When I walked into one of the cutest stores I’ve ever seen I heard a voice from behind the counter say, “Can I help you?” I answered with “I’m very hungry and I need to eat.” She said…(and I don’t think I’ll ever forget this!) “I’m making natural deodorant right now but when I’m done I’ll fix you something. Here’s a menu.” It was such an honest, real, odd reply that it made me feel right at home. I sat down across from Mary. She was once the town librarian and now owned the shop down the street. Both women made me feel extremely welcome. I spent the next hour and half learning about their lives, taking pictures and eating.

This is Dimples where I had the best vegetarian wrap I’ve ever tasted! Oh, and I couldn’t leave without a jar of the natural deodorant! I love it!

Dimples Dimples2

Here’s Mary’s store. The Butterfly Garden. Linden, Tennessee.

Mary's store


Mary's store2

I left with a full stomach and a feeling of peace from having strangers treat me so well. It was after six and I still had several hours of driving. Little did I know that my adventure was about to get very scary!

To be continued…

Click here to read Traveling On My Own Part One!

Click here to purchase my children’s middle grade fantasy: MYSTIC


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